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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 12, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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this doesn't look like fedex, says shoppers will spend $15.7 billion on love. up 11% from last year. $1.7 billion of that, flowers alone. a new day in egypt. sweeping away the past and making promises about the future. but just what comes next? and is there another revolt in the making? tonight, a new crackdown. plus news on the ancient egyptian treasures. plus news on the ancient egyptian treasures. what's been lost? captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. a new egypt born yesterday with the resignation of hosni mubarak took its first tentative steps
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forward today as cairo's tahrir square was transformed today from a center of revolt into a symbol of new beginnings. the military, egypt's current caretaker, reassured a jubilant population that its tenure would be a short one and that power would turn over to a free elected government. and some of egypt's neighbors got the reassurances they were looking for, too. once again, richard engel leads off our coverage from cairo. richard? >> reporter: good evening, lester. egyptians were celebrating last night, and they are still celebrating now. today the egyptian army said the egyptian people will achieve the democracy they demanded. egyptians awoke in what feels like a new nation. and they're immensely proud of it. >> what's important is what's happened to the egyptian people and how they've changed and how they earn their country and how
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they own their future. >> reporter: in tahrir square they gathered by the hundreds of thousands again but this time to celebrate. and in a sign of the desire to start over, they're cleaning up. sweeping away the debris of 18 days of revolt and with it, 30 years of former president mubarak's rule. >> the best thing that has ever happened to egypt, and it's a new beginning. >> i'm very proud. >> reporter: many egyptians remain in what can only be described as a state of euphoria. street parties continued all night across egypt, with dancing, bonfires and singing. after a victory the protesters won with stubborn resilience and battles with police and government-paid goon squads. today, paving stones used as missiles in those street battles were replaced. >> this is our challenge. this is not easy. rebuilding and keeping of the momentum is not easy. >> reporter: barricades were
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lifted away. metal shields protestors used to defend themselves were carried off. crowds sung what is now the anthem of this revolt against corruption, police brutality and a regime that simply took its people for granted. "raise your head up high, because you're an egyptian" they cheered. this area saw some of the worst clashes in this revolution. now people here are painting the streets, sweeping up, moving out burned vehicles. there is an energy, an optimism, a can-do spirit in egypt many people want simply to restart this nation which feels like it is being reborn. the army has now taken control, and all day egyptians raised their children to be photographed with soldiers. the army has never been more popular here. the army never fired on the people and ultimately broke with mubarak and forced him to accept the demonstrators' demands. today the military addressed the people. a spokesman said egyptian
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government officials would temporarily stay in place, but only until free, fair and democratic elections are held. the military also said egypt's peace treaties remain intact and unchanged, an apparent assurance with to israel, which has had a peace accord with egypt since 1979. change has swept across egypt, and this people power, these crowds, are being watched across the region. this could be a turning point for the entire middle east. already egypt is changing its home state television, long considered mubarak tv and hated by protesters for broadcasting propaganda, today shifted 180 degrees. it showed images of what it called the people's revolt, glorifying the protesters battles with the state, battles the television station previously described as riots. but this is now a new egypt. egyptians realize they are setting an example that is being
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watched across the middle east, and egyptians firmly believe this revolution that they have started will spread. lester? >> all right, richard. thank you. it is difficult to overestimate the courage it took for egyptians to step from the shadows and openly confront their government. for weeks now we've been hearing from individual egyptians who have shared with us their frustrations and anger. now tonight some are sharing their joy and hope. nbc's ron allen picks up our coverage from tahrir square. ron? >> reporter: good evening, lester. there are still quite a few people out here in the square, but the square is opening up. the party is winding down. there even letting cars here in some parts of the square. we've been out here talking to people we met during the past few weeks asking what they hope the jubilation of the past couple of days brings to the days and weeks ahead. >> it happened. when i thought deep down in my very core that it would never happen.
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>> reporter: tonight this family of cairo celebrates, while discussing all that's happened. hussein, a pilot, retired from the air force, wife mushira, a tour guide and sons omar, 31, a businessman, and tarek, 27, an accountant. >> i should have gone as a mother, as a citizen, as wife, as a woman. >> reporter: she admits she had no hope of ousting the regime but calls her sons heroes for being in the square day in and day out. we met omar the night former president mubarak refused to resign. his frustration? intense. >> we are peaceful. when, mubarak, are you going to provoke us? when? >> reporter: when we saw you in the square the other night, you were a little upset? >> definitely. >> reporter: like so many young people, omar says he struggled to find good jobs.
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rocked by a corrupt regime, riddled with cronyism. >> the ex-regime was not giving, allowing everyone to just -- like get the best that he or she can. there were limitations. >> reporter: now he wants mubarak investigated and the army back in its barracks soon. >> yes, i've had my joy, but now it's time for the work to happen. >> reporter: tarek believes work will get done because it will no longer only benefit a privileged few. >> we have hard work to do, but we will do it with a smile on our faces because we will know we're building this country. >> what we had after 5:00 p.m. 11th of february is hope, but i don't want to get into a state of euphoria. >> reporter: like those still in the square, this family wants to keep the pressure on egypt's new leaders. >> we don't have a magic wand.
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we have to work hard to make magic happen to real life. >> reporter: there's still a lot of energy out here, and some of the young protestors are vowing to stay until all of their demand are met. at the top of that list is lifting a state of emergency that's been in place here for the past 30 years. others are saying they want to hold demonstrations every friday indefinitely. lester, back to you. >> ron allen in tahrir square where the celebration continues tonight. and a big question remains -- can egypt's experience be copied elsewhere in the arab world? much of it ruled by kings, dictators and other authoritarian leaders. today many tested the government of algeria, as we hear from nbc's martin fletcher. >> reporter: is algeria next? up to 15,000 protesters defied a ban on demonstrations today calling for democratic reform, just like in egypt. even waving egypt's flag.
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their kmant chant? "no to a police state." more than 25,000 riot police and they arrested about 400 protesters. there's been a state of emergency here for two decades, ever since the government defeated an islamic insurgency that killed 200,000. and in yemen today, police put down another demonstration. again, the callers calling for their president to step down immediately, not in two years, as promised. egypt's revolution is sending shock waves through the region. >> the whole environment is changing from instead of countries where the ruler has been sort of the father of the nation, as mubarak called himself, to a system in which the people are the voice of the nation. >> reporter: but does money talk, too? kuwait's rulers today tried to buy off their opponents giving each citizen $3,500 and free food for a year.
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earlier bahrain gave its citizens about $2,700 each to avoid protests. meanwhile, in egypt, everyone's asking, where is hosni mubarak? very few tourists in the red sea resort of sharm el sheikh, though, according to local officials, there's one special visitor, the former president, believed to be staying in his palace here with his family. it's believed the new government promised not to prosecute mubarak or seize his assets, rumored to be in the billions of dollars. it isn't clear how long he'll stay or, if he does go, where he'll go. martin fletcher, sharm el sheikh, egypt. >> for more now on the revolution in egypt and more, we turn to a specialist on democratic reform in the middle east and director of research at the brookings institution's doha center. he joins us from cairo. does the military have a narrow window to follow through with the promises of reforms that
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hold elections before egyptians grow disenchanted again? >> yes. the military can't wait too long here. the expectations are really high and there's a danger that people will become disillusioned. we don't have a clear sense of what exactly the military wants. the military was long the backbone of the regime. so they would really have to transform into a pro-democracy force, and we don't really know much about them. so this is really an uncertain period. i think we're talking about six months where the military really has to deliver on its promises. >> and history tells us that the process of making democracy can be an ugly process. if this transition somehow turns to chaos or gets off track what kind of vacuum could be created and who might occupy it? >> that's a worry that i think a lot of egyptians h s have now, fear of chaos and instability. egypt doesn't have a strong opposition. the only really powerful group is the muslim brotherhood and there's a lot of fears i think in the west about what might happen if they step into the vacuum. i think some of those fears are unfounded.
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the brotherhood is a relatively mainstream and moderate organization that renounced violence. but the question is, if not the brotherhood, who else? political parties have to develop, and egypt hasn't really had a chance for groups to grow and reach out to their constituencies for a long time. so this is entirely unprecedented. we're looking at a new era. >> right. what we're seeing in cairo certainly has planted the seeds of uprising. in algiers, we mentioned a moment ago. other places in the middle east. is egypt an example of a one size fits all movement, or might this be a different turn in different places? >> will well, there was a sense that tunisia was exceptional and remote. egypt has long been the bellwether for the region, the political and cultural heart of the arab world. so i think when people saw what the egyptians were able to do yesterday, they ask themselves, why can't we do the same? you know, egypt, really, i think is providing a model. when you see the excitement. algeria, yemen, i think we might
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very well be seeing an arab movement here. >> thanks for joining us. appreciate it. president obama is welcoming the egyptian military's announcement of a democratic transition and its commitment to honor the peace treaty with israel. today mr. obama spoke with british prime minister david cameron, king abdullah of jordan, and the prime minister of turkey, emphasizing that democracy will bring more, not less, stability to the region. and this country's top military officer left for the middle east today. admiral mike mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, will meet with jordan's king abdullah and prime minister benjamin netanyahu of israel to reassure them of u.s. support. and a program note. david gregory will have much more on the revolution in egypt tomorrow on "meet the press," and as congress prepares to take on major legislation, a sunday exclusive with house speaker john boehner. that's tomorrow morning here on nbc. when "nightly news" continues this saturday evening, a deadly explosion raises new questions about the safety of america's gas pipelines.
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we'll be right back.
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there are new questions about the safety of this country's gas pipelines, millions of miles of them, after a series of explosions this week, including one in pennsylvania that left five people dead. nbc's tom costello has more tonight. >> oh, my god. this is beyond belief. >> reporter: the gas line explosion late thursday night shook the town of hanoverton, ohio, and sent residents fleeing.
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while no one was injured, it followed a horrific scene in allentown, p.a., wednesday. >> i heard an awful bang and i thought my roof fell down. >> reporter: the dead included children and the elderly after an 83-year-old underground gas main exploded damaging or destroying 47 homes and businesses. the cause, still under investigation. in san bruno, california, last september, eight people were killed and 30 homes destroyed after a 30-inch gas transmission line exploded. federal investigators found faulty welds on the pipeline installed more than 50 years ago. the ntsb is in charge of the investigation. >> and we're monitoring accidents like this one in allentown all over the country, and so we are very concerned about the number of pipeline accidents and the safety of the infrastructure. >> reporter: nearly 2.4 million miles of pipeline transport natural gas from wellheads to 70 million homes and businesses nationwide. a third of the transmission lines were laid before 1960. all gas lines are supposed to be
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inspected at least once a year, and the american gas association insists that if they're maintained pipelines should last 100 years or longer. but the american society of civil engineers which gives the country's infrastructure a d, is concerned. >> while we don't know the cause of these current explosions, it is a sad reflection on the overall condition of our country's infrastructure. >> reporter: routine maintenance, say the engineers, is critical to keeping any piece of infrastructure running properly. in allentown, the utility company says a routine leak inspection before the blast came up clean, leaving more questions about what triggered such a massive explosion. when we come back, an update on an american music legend. aretha franklin.
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this is what a drug war looks like. the scene in guadalajara, mexico early today of after gunmen opened fire and threw a grenade into a nightclub killing 6 people and wounding at least 37. and just over the border from el paso, texas, men with assault rifles opened fire in a bar on thursday night killing eight people. six of them waitresses. such images are now routine, snapshots of a brutal and growing drug war that killed thousands in just the last year. among the latest victims, three teenagers, two american.
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in our continuing series "the war next door" nbc's mark potter looks at the impact on children. >> we gather this morning as a community of faith. >> reporter: at the service this week at cathedral high in el paso, texas, victim family members were surround by hundreds of students. javier martinez struggled to compose himself as he mourned the loss of a classmate. >> a lot of moments together, but today my sorrow has finally ended knowing he is in the hands of god. >> reporter: this 16-year-old and a 15-year-old both americans were visiting a friend in mexico when all three were shot and killed at a car dealership last weekend. juarez, which borders el paso, had 3,000 murders last year alone during a vicious drug war. 20% of the students at cathedral high in el paso actually live in juarez and cross the border each day with u.s. passports or
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student visas. >> no one on earth should be going through this, but they do. i mean, they have no choice. >> reporter: brother nick gonzalez, the school principal, says he worries about the psychological effects. a school table holds the names of all the juarez murder victims known by the students. >> i really do think a lot of our students will eventually suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. i really do. i think right now they're in the survival mode. >> reporter: irving martinez lives in juarez and says high school here is the only place he feels secure. >> i feel this is some sort of haven where i could be safe. >> may the blessing of almighty god the father -- >> reporter: increasingly afraid for friends and family in mexico, students in el paso pray for peace. mark potter, nbc news, el paso. we have this note tonight about arnold schwarzenegger. now that his days of governor of california are over, schwarzenegger says he's ready to resume his acting career, making good in his famous
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promise on and off the screen, "i'll be back." and the queen of soul, aretha franklin, was on hand last night at the detroit pistons' game with the reverend jesse jackson. it's believed to be one of the singer's first public appearances since surgery for an undisclosed illness in december. still ahead tonight, egypt's ancient treasures, a look inside cairo's famed museum and news tonight about what's gone missing.
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as egyptians protested and even battled over their country's future these last 19 days, the one thing they all hold dear was put at grave risk -- the antiquities representing egypt's 5,000 years of history. richard engel takes us inside
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the cairo museum where curators are tallying the losses. >> reporter: today the fear was confirmed. eight artifacts are missing from the museum in cairo. the museum is in the middle of tahrir square. it was never a target of the demonstrators' anger. in fact, during the chaos, they protected it, forming a human shield in front of the main gate. but two weeks ago, amid some of the worst violence, looters did manage to break in. egypt's minister of antiquities showed us the restoration work under way on 70 objects moved or damaged in the robbery. >> they damaged completely, dating back to 4,000 years ago. >> reporter: we were also able to retrace the steps of what could have been the greatest antiquities heist in egypt's modern history. the thieves first stormed into the museum's gift shop. they wanted cash and gold jewelry.
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then four thieves climbed onto the museum's roof. three stayed there for support. probably only one actually entered museum, came in through that broken window and lowered himself down on very thin cables, but fell off, then smashed through this case which has been repaired, badly injuries himself. the thief limped from case to case, breaking them with a metal pipe. he was looking for gold and a mythical elixir called red mercury believed to be hidden in the necks of mummies and to have the power to control the spirit world. anything else was thrown aside. >> this is not really gold, and they throw it on the ground. >> reporter: including this piece, over 3,000 years old, from king tut's tomb. the thief was in the museum at least an hour but was arrested by egyptian soldiers right in front of a goddess carved to protect the pharaohs and parentally still on guard after
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thousands of years. >> they opened the showcase in front of the gold room of king tut that contained the beautiful golden mark. it was saved. thank god. the golden mask is priceless. >> reporter: richard engel, nbc news, cairo. that's nbc "nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." then right back here tomorrow evening. then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com good evening. i'm diane dwyer. we have new information tonight about the search for the man who kidnapped and killed a 4-year-old boy from the central valley town of

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